Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
October 27th, 2015

There is a new metal product that is expected to have far-reaching applications.  While it may take some time for commercial use here on earth, NASA is evaluating its use for space exploration missions as components used to construct rockets.  What makes it unique is that the metal is composed of 99.9 percent AIR.  It is termed to be a micro-lattice material, or an “open cellular polymer structure”.

“The metal was developed by HRL Laboratories, a joint venture involving Boeing and General Motors, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California Irvine. It weighs only one-tenth as much as carbon fiber, [according to] Bill Carter, the head of HRL’s Sensors and Materials Laboratory.” (Photo credit:  Dan Little, HRL Laboratories LLC)
light metal

the world’s lightest metal


Here’s the posting that Caltech has about this unique material:

Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board


And the post at UC Irvine:

Lighter than a feather and stronger than an ox


Where do you envision this “super light” material will be utilized?  Maybe there’s an invention that you’re already at work on that would benefit from it?  Think of the possibilities…

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October 23rd, 2015

Technology continues its march around the world.  This post focuses on a major project which has been in the works since 2013 in Thailand, specifically Myanmar.  The budget and scope of this endeavor – the first Solar Plant to be constructed in Thailand – is impressive.  Read about both the plant and the design team that has been engaged to bring this vision to fruition…

Here’s the backgound on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Green Earth Power in 2013 [Note:  the company is privately held and does not have a website of its own; but, they are the driving force behind the new power plant.]

Green Earth Power to develop Myanmar’s first solar plant

“Green Earth Power (Thailand), the developer of the power plant, on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power for the country’s first solar power plant. Total project value is US$275 million (Bt8.15 billion).”

“…present power production was not enough to support industrialisation in Myanmar and solar energy would be the first supplemental source of electricity. Currently, 70 per cent of electricity in Myanmar is from hydropower, 20 per cent from gas turbines, and 10 per cent from coal power plants.”


and the press from this month trumpeting the project’s movement forward

Black & Veatch to provide design services for Myanmar’s first solar plant

Take some time to read the Press Release from Black & Veatch about the project:

Black & Veatch starts work in Myanmar on Southeast Asia’s largest solar power plant

And spend a little time learning about the design company itself – with international locations, might this be a future employer that interests you?

black & veatch logo

Green Earth Power has been a proponent of solar for some time. Here’s another interesting piece about endeavors they are undertaking in Japan (published in 2013) – Rising Sun to power Thai panels

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October 21st, 2015

There are any number of competitions being held globally to stimulate the minds of budding inventors and planet champions.  Here’s one specifically for Africa from UNESCO, for which the deadline to submit an application is mid-November .

Some of the detail – - There are four programmes within the ANESI Mobility Programme: ANESI’s Student Exchange Programme, Researcher Exchange Programme, University/Industry Joint Training Programme and visiting Fellowship for Outstanding Women Geoscientists. Deadline for applications: 15 November 2015.

UNESCO’s Earth Science Education Initiative in Africa, which aims to support the development of the next generation of Earth scientists in Africa who are equipped with the necessary tools, networks and perspectives to apply sound science to solving and benefiting from the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, is implemented through ANESI.


Click on the logo below to learn the details:


There’s so much to be done to aid the development of the nations which make up this continent.  Will YOU be a contributor?

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Does the idea of extraterrestrial life interest you?  If so, here’s an opportunity to earn big bucks with design ideas for Mars habitation.  Like they have in the past, the US governmental agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is putting it’s faith in humankind to come up with a viable idea to advance exploration of the planet Mars.

blog martian architects

NASA is looking to uncover some bright ideas about how materials already found on Mars can be put to use by human visitors (Credit: NASA)

It’s purported that each piece of material gleaned from the Red Planet and put to use in building infrastructure will mean less that needs to be ferried some 140 million miles (225 million km) from Earth.  NASA says this could equate to savings of more than US$100,000 per kg (2.2 lb) of cargo on each launch.

NASA has announced the top award at $10,000 to the brightest design idea for building a structure on Mars that uses in situ materials, along with $2,500 for two second-place submissions.  The designs could consist of surface materials like rocks or soil, or even draw on the planet’s water supply.

NASA is taking submissions until December 3, with winners to be announced in late January 2016.  So let your knowledge and imagination have free reign and, who knows, you could walk away with the top prize!

Click on the red planet for more detail about the challenge.

blog red planet

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October 19th, 2015

NLP or Natural Language Processing has become more than just an emerging technology – it is here to stay!  Each new invention that comes out seems designed to better understand the way(s) that humans communicate – whether that be in formal writing, slang, phrases, inflections…the list goes on and on.  Programming a non-human system to understand the nuances of human communication seems a genuinely daunting task.  But around the world, NLP continues to find new applications -

Read about this company in Sweden where NLP is a way of life…



“Unlike traditional approaches to text analytics, we begin by modelling meaning instead of structure. Instead of relying on the standard processing pipeline, we rely on a live semantic memory model that continuously learns and understands text without any human intervention.”…”It learns the meanings of words by observing their usages and contexts, and it never stops learning: language evolves constantly, as do our semantic memories.”


They’ve taken analysis of Social Media to a new level, and had stunning success in evaluating that data to be predictive of outcomes.  Here’s how they fared with poll data in September 2015:

Gavagai and the most recent Greek election


And if you’ve never heard of “word embeddings” - vectors whose relative similarities correlate with semantic similarity – here’s an explanation that actually makes sense  (I minored in Lit in college, and this never came up.  I do write a great sonnet, though!)

A brief history of word embeddings (and some clarifications)


If you’re interested in Social Media and its effect and interplay with the next advances in computing, you’re in good company.  What is the future ‘saying’ to you?

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